23 08S. 134 54W. 20 June 2015

Dear friends,

The big S Pacific high pressure system eventually pushed us to 17 South in search of the Trade Winds. We left Valdivia for a 3 day trip to Robinson Crusoe Island, but spent 30 days at sea (our longest ever passage). We past 600 miles north of Easter Island and by then Mangareva in French Polynesia was in our sights.

We had planned to visit the Chilean Islands of Juan Fernandez and I De Pascua (Easter I) so we did not get exit stamps in our passports. We wrote to the Chilean authorities explaining, and received a very polite and understanding email in reply.

For 3 weeks we cared for and were entertained by Earl, the egret/heron who landed on board 150 miles off the coast of Chile. We fed him squid and flying fish which landed on the decks overnight. He would sometimes take off and fly a few high circles round Dulcinea. It took a week to teach him that the cabin was out of bounds and he had to be picked up and removed a few times. At our meal times he would stare in through the window. When we did jobs on deck he would follow us and watch attentively. Cleaning behind him was a chore but he had so much character that it was well worthwhile. After dawn on June 11th he saw islands with other white birds flying round the hillsides and he flew off to join them.

We had sailed a passage in light winds of 3200 miles along the rhumb line but we logged over 5000 miles. It was the right decision. We later met another boat that took 54 days to arrive from Puerto Montt.

We checked with the Gendarmes in Rikitea, the only significant town in the Gambier group, and spent a few nights anchored off there during which Erik kept us supplied with ice cream and fresh baguettes.

There are lots of flowers and few fences in Rikitea. Many trees are laden with pamplemouse (large grapefruit) and breadfruit, but there are few fresh supplies in the 3 or 4 small shops. People here are all friendly & relaxing. Jan & Dave have been walking. Dave cycled round the island and climbed Mt Duff for an overhead view of the Sunday Procession from the catholic cathedral along the single street in town. Kris and Jan attended the service and joined the singing accompanied by guitars & ukuleles.

We spent 2 nights anchored off the island of Aukena, which followed a hair-raising trip across the lagoon dodging around the tangle of floats and old ropes from pearl farms (the lagoon's main source of income). However we were met on the beach by a young man who informed us that the entire bay was "private".

After snorkeling & walking on the southerly beach, we moved to the north east side of the lagoon (at the remote edge of our current world) for more snorkeling & exploring. Still within sight of Rikitea, we wanted to return when the supply ship arrived back from Pitcairn Island as there are rumours that we will be able to buy more vegetables, eggs, and fuel. Nothing here is more definite than a rumour: there were at least 3 days during which there would be fresh eggs "the next day".

We went for a walk on this motu, and were welcomed by another "Eric" who introduced us to his wife & 3 sons, then invited us to a BBQ the next day. We provided some wine & beer and had a wonderful time. The next day, Eric showed us round his pearl farm, which he established about 6 years ago and it is just starting to pay back some income. We hope to meet them again in Papeete in 4 or 6 weeks.

We think that we heard the supply ship on the radio and are back waiting in Rikitea ready to buy food & fuel. The local bakery has run out of yeast so no baguettes today. Note our meat and flour supplies are holding up well, but vegetables & eggs will be most welcome.

Best wishes from Jan, Dave, Kris, Erik & Dulcinea